Locksport is the hobby of picking locks. Do you know anything about the muddled legalities associated?

This image, shows both a rusty old lock and a grungy question mark

This is a copy of a letter I have sent to the Professional Locksmiths Association or Alberta. I never received a response. Can you answer my questions?

I have been bouncing emails back and fourth with Sean Bonneteau with the Government of Alberta about the accreditation process for locksmith licencing. He defer’d  me to you to have my questions answered:

I am hoping to buy a lock picking set to learn, and share in the (learning) experience of working with every day locks. I have no intention of breaking any laws, and as such I am looking for the legal way to own a lock pick set.

I have read into the new (June 2010) Security Services & Investigators’ Act, I understand the necessity of this act, but am struggling to understand exactly what position it puts me in.

Upon further research I have found several references to a “lock pick licence” which seems to be independent of an apprenticeship / journeyman’s ticket, which would allow me to legally own a set.

I dont want to own a set illegally, so I am hoping to find more details about this “pick licence”

Things like: What is the cost associated, as well as how / where should I go about beginning this process.

I have tried to do my own Google’ing, but all I seem to find is apprenticeship locksmith information,
I dont believe I will be able to complete the experience requirements as an apprentice (1560 hours over 4 years), and as such I dont believe this is the right route for me.
I want to learn this trade for my own benifit, never to be solicited as a business or service, as I am unable to take on a new career at this time. There are bills to be paid.

Again I want to stress that I want a pick set for completely legal reasons, nothing bad.

Mr. Bonneteau explained to me that he cannot allow an individual to possess a licence which allows that individual the opportunity to obtain restricted tools without the proper qualifications or a legitimate purpose.
Though I understand this, I beleive learning to be legitimate, which is why I am continuing to persue this goal legally.

Because of this, I have begun looking into post secondary programs that may be able to facilitate this requirement as follows:

I have come across the following DETC accredited distance learning school: http://www.icslearn.ca/accreditation.html

They provide a “career diploma” in the area of locksmiths: http://www.icslearn.ca/locksmith/index.html

I am a little unclear as to whether or not this accreditation will qualify me to obtain the aforementioned restricted tools legally.

Also, as this distance learning program offers to send me many of these tools for learning purposes, will I be outside the law in accepting them in order to learn?
According to the course outline, they offer to send the following “learning aids”:
Tension wrench
Screwdriver set
As seen: http://www.icslearn.ca/locksmith/program-outline.html

Lastly, I was hoping to clarify if completing / enrolling into this course is sufficient to allow exemption under the Act (section 3.5 of the Policy Manual), or allow me to gain a pick licence (if they even exist) As I realize it does not meet the apprenticeship needs for journeyman qualification.

As I hope you can see, I have done my research into different legalities involved with my query, and through this process I have been sent from department to department (I have spoken to 4 different people about this matter so far) and am hoping you can help shed some light in this regard.

Feel free to email me back at (Email removed to spite spam bots)

Thank you very much for you time.

Joshua West

By Josh West


  1. Comment by Helper

    Firstly, the PLAA is an industry association. Like all industry associations it seeks to protect its members first before any public good. Just look at California.

    You can apply to the Alberta Solicitor general for an exemption as they have a responsibility to the public. The section of the criminal code of canada (section 351) that they are using to restrict the tools can be found here:


    It basically says that if you have “any instrument suitable for the purpose of breaking [in or bypassing]” a lock that the onus is on you to prove you were not using it or going to use it to commit a crime. Well my power drill got me into my shed and garage lets see the self serving union try to regulate that I wonder what they think of a firemans axe or a police battering ram. No doubt if it makes them more money the Fire departments and Police are nothing more than heinous criminals according to their logic.

    Hope that helps.

  2. Comment by Joshua West

    Thanks For your comment, I was still sitting around in the dark in this regard.
    Will look into this further with your help.

    Thanks again!


  3. Comment by Helper

    Also good luck with your studies

  4. Comment by Helper

    Remember under the criminal code it makes it illegal to walk around with the tools not to have them. So all you have to do is write to the Solicitor General explain that you are going to school and need the tools.

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